NEW Business Trouble-Shooting

LOCAL BUSINESS TROUBLE-SHOOTER CAN INCREASE YOUR PROFIT WITHIN MONTHS

Times are really tough now for many small and medium-sized businesses, with online retailers providing fierce competition at the same time that banks and finance lenders are increasingly reluctant to support businesses in need of help. For many specialist local businesses like yours, whilst you have incredible skills and experience in what you do on a day to day basis, the sad fact is that if you are not an expert in marketing and business strategy then some of the best businesses will ultimately fail. At the age of 28 (over 20 yrs ago!) I started my first business in London and within a year sold it to a larger competitor for over £100,000.  Since then I have created and managed two more successful businesses which made profits every month since inception and never needed to borrow money to survive. My knowledge of marketing, lead-generation, financial management and the basics of the tax system have given me enormous experience which I would like to share and help other budding entrepreneurs achieve the successes I did. My offer to you is very simply that I would love the chance to help your business thrive. I am so confident that I can add value that I will also give my time and advice on a ‘no results, no fee’ basis – meaning that if my insight and help do not result in an increase in revenue or profits, then you pay nothing, other than the initial consultation fee of just £199.00. For this one-off cost I will sit down with you and any other business owners or investors for a one-hour consultation, from which I will produce a written report and recommendations to show you where your business is missing opportunities; paying over the odds or losing out on profitable revenue.  This report is completely confidential and will be yours to keep. Following the report, if you choose to take the business advice and retain my support as your business strategist for a minimum six-month period, you will pay just £250/month, all of which will be refunded in the event that you do not make at least this much additional profit over the period that we work together.  In essence, you have nothing to lose and lots to gain! I hope you will give some time to look at these and I will be in touch with you shortly to see if we can arrange an initial meeting.  Obviously feel free to contact me direct if you would like to know more or indeed get the ball rolling a little earlier.

Bat Caves to Operation Chicken

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We have had a crazy month both inside and outside the Mitchell Moneypenny offices which has seen our lovely MD Nic frantically ‘hat swapping’ to fulfil many different roles including MD, site foreman and nurse maid to her partner following some nasty back surgery. We were concerned that she had taken on too much, a suspicion we thought may be confirmed when she called to say she needed to pop out for a ‘decoy owl’! Not a sentence we were ever expecting to hear in the MML offices! On her return we half expected her to enter the office suited and site booted wearing a pinny and clutching a terrified hooting bird. We were rather relieved when she arrived back calmly holding a solar powered chicken! Apparently the decoy owl was supposed to stop pigeons from falling down our chimney and due to a fundamental lack of decoy owls available she had settled for the chicken. Whilst I’m relieved that madness hasn’t ensued I’m still a little perplexed by our new chimney ornament.

Building work finally seems to be tailing off now and the trees at the front of our building have been removed, temporarily bathing our office in light –  until the builders, in their infinite wisdom, decided to stack a huge pile of bricks in their place *sighs. After a long and extremely hot month, listening to the not always tuneful on site singing of half melted welsh builders, those bricks have now been turned into a rather lovely wall and the scaffolding removed to reveal the beautiful regency building that had been hiding beneath the cracks. In amongst this madness we have still managed to press on with client meetings and social media training, although I will be glad not to have to pre-warn clients that a hard hat may be issued on arrival!

We have also been looking at social media competitions this month and I have been extremely surprised by the amount of companies that run them without carefully reading the strict terms and conditions put in place by the sites they are using. I cannot stress enough the importance of reading the guidelines for all sites before considering running competitions. My biggest shock was the amount of big brand companies that may not realise that they run the risk of their social media sites being taken down. Imagine putting in so much work building up a fan base and promoting your profiles only to have to start from scratch?  If you are in any doubt about what can and can’t be done I would always recommend consulting an expert.

Social media is a hugely powerful tool that requires rolling up your sleeves and putting in the effort to make a success. There are many tips and tools that can help you boost your following and encourage engagement with your pages in the right way. I was appalled to watch the Dispatches documentary on 05/08/2013 and see the huge amount of people paying for likes from fake profiles. Not only are those companies deceiving their potential customers but also themselves, for as in life only the real likes count.

If you feel your company may benefit from a bit of guidance setting up your corporate social media sites or having all your social media activities looked after professionally, please do get in touch for a chat.  I can be reached by email tanith@mitchellmoneypenny.com and don’t forget to follow us on twitter @moneypennyPR and on our Mitchell Moneypenny facebook page for regular news, tips and updates.

 

From the Bat Cave; batty bans on Social Media

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This month we are blogging from the Bat Cave, unfortunately the Bat Mobile is not included although we do have an array of diggers and wood chippers outside. The Mitchell Moneypenny office building is being treated to a little facelift which means the entire building has been covered with scaffolding and men in high vis jackets. So far they have been lucky with the weather, but I do feel for them working outside in what is supposed to be our summer, especially the few days when it’s pouring with freezing rain.

With all the recent social media press attention, both positive and negative, we have been looking at the role that social media plays within financial networks. Many networks had previously been nervous about using and allowing the use of social media due to the risk of being non-compliant. In certain cases a complete blanket ban on use of sites like twitter was implemented by the more nervous networks. This is a stance that both recent headlines and our statistics suggest seems to be changing. The results are extremely interesting and can be found in the Money Marketing article by our MD Nicola Mitchell containing the first ‘Moneypenny Social Media Index’ published on the 30th May.  http://www.mitchellmoneypenny.co.uk/2013/05/which-nationals-and-networks-are-making-the-best-use-of-social-media/

It demonstrates how important it is to implement a solid social media strategy and why just being ‘present’ on social media is not enough. Whilst a slightly cautious attitude to use is sensible, the refusal by networks to allow members to tap in to this amazing resource is frankly batty! Creating and maintaining social profiles is not about sales or financial promotions and those unsure of compliance risks should certainly steer clear of using it for this purpose. It is a way to create an all important personality for your brand and interact on a more personal level. It gives the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and share industry topics with like minded people.

The use of social media may also drive back good customer service; something I feel has been declining over recent years, with sites like twitter allowing you to tweet at businesses publicly and directly the pressure is on to keep the consumer happy. I personally make sure I seek out and thank companies that provide excellent service and also provide feedback on products and services I have received. Businesses that respond promptly and positively to offer further assistance or advice will always retain my custom.

The demand for more information about social media use in financial services is definitely out there. We have once again been invited to do a seminar on the subject for another client conference. It will be interesting to see if we get the same level of enthusiasm as we had at the last one.

We will continue to closely monitor the networks and will be keeping you abreast of the changes as they slowly awaken to the importance of having a social presence and finally find their social media feet.

Budget, Eggs and the Iron lady

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It’s spring time (but not as we know it) in the Mitchell Moneypenny offices and after a very unseasonal freezing cold March we are very pleased to hear that sunshine is finally on its way. March is supposed to be a time of daffodils and Easter chicks, not sheep being pulled out of snow drifts! Perhaps Mother Nature got distracted trying to work full time, keep a house and family in order and find time to make Easter bonnets for the school parade? There was no bonnet making for my kids school this year but had they done so I think they would have been knitted.

The big event of March was the much anticipated Budget announcement. We nervously watched George Osborne deliver it to see if we could actually afford to buy any Easter eggs this year.  In a time of austerity the budget was never going to delight everybody, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom, the help to buy and mortgage guarantee schemes will hopefully give a much needed boost to the economy and if that doesn’t work out at least we get 1p off beer!

There has been a lot going on in the office with some great new clients to look after. It has been fantastic to work on such a variety of projects and face new challenges. Nic has been particularly in demand for her knowledge and expertise lately. She attended the Money Marketing awards on the 21st March for her regular role as judge, a very good night by all accounts. She is also a judge for the Headline Money Awards coming up in May (and yes, before you ask, it is too late for bribery!). This month also marks my six month anniversary working for Mitchell Moneypenny. It has flown by so quickly, and I can’t believe how much I have learned.  Some of the day to day tasks that I now do without thinking were a terrifying prospect just six short months ago.

In other news, (you may have heard) Margaret Thatcher passed away this week causing a ‘Thatcher post’ overload on my twitter feed. She certainly had the marmite effect on people, and whilst I was never a ‘lover’ myself I do have a begrudging admiration for the lady that became the first woman ever to take command at number 10 and kept her post the longest.  Her funeral will be a huge state affair next week and I can’t help worrying in a country so divided over their feelings for her whether this will stir up a whole hornet’s nest of problems.

Tanith Harding

Fifty Fumblings And An Exit Strategy

Fancy a coffee?  Don’t mind if I do …then fifty fumblings later what do you most need?  A sleep, a cheeky smoke perhaps ..or if you are really sensible, an exit strategy.

Let’s face it last year was manner from heaven for many technology suppliers in the adviser marketplace.  ‘Buy it now, quick and we can make you RDR ready but if you don’t you might not make muster’.  The headlines were getting tedious by October, but it made commercial sense and a great hook for all the PRs losing the will to live with all the new software launches and grandiose claims of killer applications from clients desperate for column inches.

So post-RDR have the techies all reached a fulfilling climax and settled back waiting for the end of year profit numbers to swell their balance sheets – unlikely.  Sadly the truth is that whilst the adviser population has itself contracted so has the perceived need for all the technology suppliers’ new toys on the shelf.  As an adviser if you have not yet bought your risk profiler; your cashflow planning tool; your upgraded, integrated, seamlessly brilliant back-office solution and a couple of stochastic modellers for good measure then it’s likely your IFA practice is already doomed.

The good news though is that if you have shopped wisely – and got a toy collection that even Madonna would be proud of – you have probably made an excellent investment in building your firm’s valuation.  Whilst brand, annuity revenue, client retention and a competitive market position all stack up the big zeros on the balance sheet, having invested in good technology can make all the difference.

Still not sure what your exit strategy is?  Don’t worry as you are unlikely to be alone if this is the case.  But as in all matters of business strategy remember that preparation and protection are paramount.  So if you still think you might be just fumbling around in the dark you might be wise to consider the importance of the big ‘P’s.

Nic Mitchell

Embracing 2013

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After a long relaxing holiday break, eating far too much food and generally lazing around, I was glad to get back to work. My fear of actually morphing into a bean bag was perilously close to becoming a reality and all the movies I had watched were starting to blur together. The children were definitely ‘ready’ to go back to school. The novelty of Christmas and new toys had definitely worn off and the “he said” “she said” battle had resumed. Besides I wasn’t sure my poor feet could cope with standing on yet another lego brick.

If I had thought at any moment we would slowly nuzzle back in to the flow of work, I was mistaken. January 2013 was crazy busy. Meetings and lunches needed setting up and resulted in a flurry of press coverage for clients. We also had a presentation on social media to put together for Personal Touch Live at the ICC in Birmingham later in the month. I have to note at this point that this would be my second ever presentation whilst working at Mitchell Moneypenny. Fortunately with a workload of social media pages to set up as well as the slides to finish, I had no time to concern myself with the actual presentation itself.

In amongst the dates set aside for press lunches Nic also needed to travel to London for her regular role judging the Money Marketing Awards. As with any judging panel there are always some minor disagreements. Luckily then that judging alongside her was the amazing ‘LangCat’ and a world leading authority on financial technology to help make the final decision!

As the date of the conference came closer, the weather turned colder, and we were faced with the news that snow was on its way. Waking up the next morning to an unchanged landscape filled my poor eight year old son with immense dissatisfaction. When I suggested we check the next weather report for an update, he responded “What’s the point, they just lie!” leaving me bemusedly wondering how one so young can already be so cynical. As we all know, the weather man, whilst slightly premature, had not been lying about the snow. A few days later the whole country was completely covered in the stuff, resulting in the closure of nearly every school and the building of hundreds of snowmen. The trouble with snow is that the novelty wears of fairly quickly. By day three we were all hoping that it would disappear so that we could get on with our lives.

When it became apparent that the snow was not shifting we all somehow managed to muddle on (albeit carefully). The date for the conference had arrived and Nic and I decided that the train would be the safest option. As we arrived at our room I realised just how many people I would be presenting to and suddenly felt slightly queasy. Watching Nic confidently deliver her part of the presentation I managed to just about collect myself and on cue headed over to the lectern. Opening my mouth and expecting nothing more than a tiny squeak to come out, I was amazed at the level sound of my voice. The presentation was extremely well received, and by the afternoon session I had my nerves completely under control. I just hope nobody saw my legs shaking!